We’ve had some fabulous conversations on this show about aggressive behavior and how much a dog’s breed might influence these cases, and for this episode of Fresh Bites on The Bitey End of the Dog, I chat with Saara Uljas who specializes in herding breeds. We chat about a variety of breed specific behavior tendencies in herders, and how they might impact aggression. It’s an excellent episode packed with Saara’s insights and experience, and I hope you enjoy.
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(Translates as MerryPaws')
IG & Facebook Lystitassun
CCUI, animal trainer (FI qualified, specializing in herding breeds and dog sport enthusiast)
We've had some fabulous conversations on the show about aggressive behavior, and how much a dog's breed might influence these cases. And for this episode of fresh bites on the by the end of the dog, I chat with SATA odious who specializes in herding breeds, we chat about a variety of breed specific behavior tendencies in herders and how they might impact aggression. It's an excellent episode packed with Sadhas insights and experience and I hope you enjoy. And if you are interested in hearing more about applicable and immediate steps you can use with your own dog or in your cases, I just launched a subscription series called Help for dogs with aggression, which is an additional format to this podcast where I walk you through a variety of aggression issues and how to solve them. You'll find a little subscribe button on Apple podcasts where the by the end of the dog is listed. Your support of the show is very much appreciated. Hey, everyone, welcome back to another episode of The by the end of the dog. I've got a special guest this week, we're going to be talking about herding breeds and aggression. SATA. Julius owns listed a son, which translates to Mary paws. Sada is from Finland. And we're going to actually talking about dogs from Finland. You can find Isata on lists theta Sun, which is El YSTITA. Es es un on both Facebook and Instagram. She is a certified control on leash instructor, which is through Lesley McDevitt is program, as well as a qualified animal training instructor from Finland. And they have their own certification system out there as well. And she specializes in herding breeds and as a dog sport enthusiast. So welcome to the show. Sarah. Thank you very much really exciting to be here. Yes, I'm really excited for this conversation, because we're going to talk about, you know, we'd like to talk about breed specific behaviors on the show. We've had a German Shepherd specialist in the past. And so it's great to have somebody that understands herding breeds. And you know, I was looking at Kimbro fees book this morning, and kind of just poking around in the herding breed section. And some of the descriptions she uses in the book are, you know, attentive, responsible, bossy, workaholic and clingy dogs when talking about herding breeds. And we're describing those herding breeds. Is that what you'd say? Sounds kind of like what you would use as words to describe or maybe you want to add your own descriptions? I would use that. Yes, I think that sounds very much like my own border collie. I think like herding beads are often a bit misunderstood, like, because they differ from other dogs, in many levels, and people somehow sometimes think that they do it on purpose. But actually, they can't help it. It's in their nature. Yes, and let's talk more about that. Because, you know, again, we talk a lot about breed specific tendencies in especially when it comes to aggression and understanding that, so when it comes to aggression, what are some of the behaviors or some of those tendencies which we need to be aware of? If you have someone going out and saying, Yeah, I want to go out and get a herding breed. And we can certainly talk turn and talk about the specific herding breeds. But in general herding breeds, if you want to make somebody aware of what can be problematic, or what kind of what to be aware of, or what tendencies, the breed specific tendencies, what would they be? That's a great question. I think the most important thing is to understand that the herding breed is bred to control movement. So the purpose of the dog is to hurt the animals in a group and control where they are moving. That's like why they are here in the first place. And for hundreds of years, herding breeds are one of the most intense types of dogs used in hundreds of years in different parts of the world. Because of that, if they can't have the control, if they think they are losing control, it grades a lot of first day son, and then can lead to aggressive behaviors when the dog tries to gain control. I think that is the most common type of aggression you see in herding breeds when they are trying to chase something and meet and buy it and grep for moving things. So as humans, we've somewhat selected for this hypersensitivity, or hyper vigilance in the environment, which can be a problem when it comes to you know, things that suddenly appear, we call them suddenly environmental contrast. Right. And so I'd love to dive into tips for that, because I think a lot of pet owners as well as trainers might have a difficult time with dogs. We've selected for that kind of hyper vigilance, constantly scanning and being aware of the environment much more so than other breeds, in which they kind of sometimes notice things before much earlier than us in the environment. So So let's jump into some of those typical strategies you use. I know there's this is a broad question, but maybe you can kind of take us through what you would do in that kind of situation. Yeah, the tendency to notice things is due that the herding breed dogs are, they need to see if one sheep out of 20 seap is starting the move. So that's that's very useful skill when hurting, but of course in urban environments might be a problem. And I have used a lot of Leslie's program, obviously. And I think the look at that game is really important for herding breed dogs, because to that we can teach them that changes they are receiving are nothing to worry about. They are not the ducks business. And I have found that very helpful. And my own border colleague, Lana, until five months, see didn't care about movement, see ate candy and be skates. And I was like, Oh, this is so easy. And then, like a struggle, lightning strike, started to chase cars, and I could not get any, any contact with her. If I move my hand in front of her icy didn't react to that to only look at the moving things. And now she can do look at that for me, for the cars. So even in very difficult situations, you can work with that successfully. Other thing that I have done is the whip astern game, which is also from the CEU program. So tell us more about that the whiplash turn game. Yeah, we passed on is, is a game where you teach the dog to respond to its name, where it weekly. And also you can use it to teach the dog to turn away from things. I have done that so that I have deterred the game, and then added a little bit of movements he needs to turn away from, and then when that is successful, slightly increase it, the movement. And that has been also very important for us. And my client dogs as well do incorporate strategies to kind of additionally satisfy those innate needs of the herding breeds. So you know, maybe not even in the presence of the particular trigger, but sort of more just an ancillary level or holistic level. Do you add in any other activities, too, for dogs that need all of those outlets? Yes, actually, I do. And I think that is important part of the well being of the herding breeds because they have the need, and it's quite easy to offer it but you have to be careful not to overdrive, because they easily get addicted to that, but you can hurt is it called Dre Powell Inglis, Oh, balls, yes, or you can hurt toys I usually use as a reward a toy which is in my hand, and my protocol is allowed to stalk it first, and then she can crop it. And it's like the best reward for her entire life. And if we can offer the safe opportunities to hurt, then the need for use it in wrong situations like with cars, or, or people or bicycles tend to lower. So going back to those environments in which you are going to see the triggers do set up sort of an additional like incompatible or what they call alternative or other behaviors. So technically, you know, the the whiplash turn game we've we've talked about that you can argue is a desirable replacement behavior, like the dog comes in checks in with you or even look at that where the dog looks at the stimulus and looks back for the reinforcer. Do you add in any additional foundational skills or anything that you typically would use that you find work best with herding breeds, I have also used the hand touch with the cue. So that's usually working very well. With herding breeds, you need to be clear with your reward markers and reward procedures and think with what is rewarding enough for them to change the behaviors in the difficulty. So essence, I usually do not train straight with the triggers, I'm more prone to train in a quiet environment and very solid behaviors. Also avoid that recurs while training. So you mentioned of starting gradually with as we should with training, right? Yeah. And then incorporating those strategies. So you teach something like touch or how do you find like stationary behaviors impacted dog, you know, that needs to kind of be on the go and hyper vigilant all the time. And we can argue they're always looking for Some work. So then we ask them to station or do something that's very non movement oriented. So look at me or down or stay or sits or those kinds of behaviors? Do you ever incorporate those? Or do you find that they can actually be counterintuitive, because they can be too frustrating? I do, I think the dog needs to have a solid down or a solid stop for in case of emergency, for Border Collies down is usually quite easy to teach. But for some breeds, they might not want to do it when it's wet, wet or something, or maybe two POVs on a bench in the park or on a log or, or on a big stone can be really successful about for too long staying still is usually first taste. And so I would incorporate those stays and behaviors but make sure that it doesn't last too long. Maybe do some kind of string that you have a movement, then you have stay Santana movement, and you have states and where you can teach the dog, that after movement, you need to chill, and then you get the move again, because the movement of the dog as well is highly rewarding for active breed. Yes, that that makes sense. Now, I'd love to dive into kind of the motivation for when we see aggression surface in these cases. So for instance, you might have a herding breed displaying very breed specific tendency, no genetic behavior with a dog is maybe chasing children and nipping at their heels, or you know, typical herding breed behavior, but the motivation may be different depending on the case. So for instance, we have, let's say, under socialized Border Collie, right? We sometimes go out and get a border collie at eight weeks and then wait, you know, many, many months before the puppy sees their first children, and the dog starts to develop fear. And sort of the predatory motor sequence or that motor pattern is to chase a nip at the heels. But it's done to make the children go away, versus a dog that is under stimulated enriched, but they're perfectly socialized with children, and they're very confident to put a label on it. And they start to chase children in the same way. And they're nipping at the heels. And the motivation is to say, you know, I'm a border collie. I want to keep all these kids in one specific place and one specific group. So there's another type of motivation, right? So how do you go about that? And how do you work with those different types of cases where it's one, let's say you have two different Border Collies, one is very under socialized, fearful, and the other one's just more confident, outgoing, again, to put labels on it. But it's what are the differences in how you approach those cases. That's very good for you to ask, because it's usually that when the dog is stressed it or it's afraid that behaviors come stronger. And the dog dog is like, taking refuge, from their instinct, behavior, when it does not know what to do. And for those kinds of dogs, I would teach some other behaviors like, that's the human or maybe later, when it's a little bit socialized with the children like cold, that's the student's hand and come back to him handler. Of course, they'll offer opportunities to hurt safely. But I think in most cases, the most important thing is to build up the dog's confidence. So she doesn't need to take refuge from the instinct behaviors anymore. So you can do something else. And and for that, to stay sense, and and tamp that and look at that also are very good. So kind of Yeah, it's kind of working on their fear side first, it sounds like you kind of want to make sure that the dog is feeling comfortable and safe in the environment. And then then you're going to say something, what is it about the other type of dog? Yeah, so if I have a dog that wants to control the movement, there as well, even if the dog seems to be confident, it might be that seeing movement out of control makes the look a little bit panic it so the dog feels that it cannot, like do its task and and it might cause some panic. So it might be that they too need to work a little bit with confidence as well. And I will do the sensations a lot. And with that kind of talk I would to look at that with very high rewards, maybe the way pasture and exercise with very high rewards, teaching them that the moving children is not their business. And a lot of impulse control is not the most preferred word but to Help her not to do who I think is the most appealing alternative behavior. Let's talk more about that what you said just there the impulse control because it is a hot topic. And depending on who you talk to you, they might not even call it that some of them will say it's just all stimulus control. But I do believe there's a, there's certain levels of arousal that can happen in dogs that we can help and to maintain that control that aspect of things. So sort of like the fuel behind the fire. Arousal certainly is a thing in animals. And we can see that sometimes with these dogs that are often used for working tasks. So again, you're working line shepherds or herding breeds sometimes have a difficult time with that. Especially, you know, there's the saying that herding breeds or the Border Collies, they're too smart for their own good, right, yeah, they're actually very smart. And that also presents a difficulty when it comes to those subtle nuances like controlling arousal. So maybe, for example, if you got a border collie that is quick to go from zero to 60, as they were to say, they're just quickly ramp up their hyper vigilance. And getting into that working mode. Because again, as humans, we've selected for that particular aspect and the breeds that could be problematic for us. Also, when the dogs exposed to a trigger a provocative stimulus in the environment, they quickly go from zero to 60. And so that arousal spikes, and there's arguments that we need to teach the dog how to control that, as well as sort of control that impulse control or, you know, put impulse control on that dog for another label again, but are there any specific exercises you teach your clients to work with that particular aspect? You know, just controlling that arousal or recognizing when that happens? Yeah, I think you're absolutely right, that the arousal is a big issue. And it might be an issue in many levels, because usually, we see young separate dogs that can't eat when they are aroused. And then the rewarding in the situations can be difficult, because the dog might not want to take any cookies. And sometimes toy reward can be quite challenging. I do the, what I described before that we have the movement, and stasis and movements, they sing, like beating the dog that if you come at beat down, then you can move again. Also Leslie's exercise of switch game, which theaters the dog to calm down and then then it gets to resume to play. And I have found this exercise really helpful. Sometimes the case is also that the dog is actually never calm. So when people get activate, breed, and they are told that you should active them and activate them and offer exercise and offer brain work. And then they have a puppy who is constantly on to move. And if if you see activation, you are maybe really quick to think that the dog is bored, when actually it is tired, but it doesn't know how to rest and and we sit at home, teach the dogs that when nothing is happening, they can relax. That is an important skill as well, because I have heard about border collies that the owners have never seen them sleep. I think that's quite worrisome. But that includes other breeds as well. So you mentioned relaxation there. Do you incorporate relaxation protocols, sort of like Karen overalls relaxation Protocol, or some of the other different relaxation exercises that are out there? I have used Coronavirus relaxation protocol. I think that is absolutely very useful with herding breeds. But also I think like basics, enrichment stuff like leaking mats and snuffle mats, and scatter feeding and hanging without doing anything. Sniffer, Alex, when you take your dog out in the woods, in a long line, so they cannot Chase wildlife, but they can sniff and into the nature are very important. And these often people forget them, as they are keen to offer ball throwing and trick training and that kind of stuff. And you mentioned out in the woods in seeing critters and things like that. And I'd want to know ask you about the predatory behavior of herding breeds. And do you feel like it's more prone in herding breeds? Or do you see it more than other breeds? Like let's say the dogs are out and I'd love to ask you what kind of critters are in Finland. But let's say you have you see a critter or squirrel or cat or something out and about. Do you think that herding breeds are more prone to that because of their hyper vigilance? Or is it more because they lean towards chasing small credits than other breeds? What are your thoughts on that? I think they are. I have actually two types of herding breeds. I have a border collie and then I have a Polsky of Tarek nisi Nee, I don't know if you know, ponds in America, but they are like, big, hairy, like a lot of hair and Nacho hypervigilant. And if I go into the woods, they only see perch if they walk or strike to them. And my partner Callie spots every bird in in every bush and stalks them first and then see a starts to near and chase and I'm pretty sure that if given enough, practice, see what also grabbed and killed him. But I think this is something we see also interiors, maybe some Berta hunting breeds as well but they usually do not correct they only stop them birds. All right, we're going to take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors and we'll be right back with sada. Thanks for tuning in, and I hope you are enjoying this episode. I have a very special offer that I am announcing just before the aggression in dogs conference this year. You've heard me talk about the aggression in dogs master course on this podcast. And for a limited time to celebrate the third annual conference. I'm going to launch a bundle offer that includes the course and all 14 webinars on aggressive dogs.com. Yes, that's all of the webinars. The webinars alone would typically cost more than $450 to purchase together. But I'm including them for free in this special bundle deal with the aggression in dogs master course. 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And I hope to see you in the master course. All right, we're back here with SATA odious where we're talking about herding breeds and aggression. So when having a herding breed, you really have to be on point with noticing or at least managing it before they take off after that actual prey. Yes. So the next question I have for you let's kind of thought that was coming to my mind is when we don't provide the needs. And we start to see maladaptive behaviors occur. So things like that even compulsive behavior. Sometimes you might get, you know, like light chasing or shadow chasing a dog that's, again, we've selected for to be hyper vigilant when it comes to the aggression or the aggression cases you've seen. So what are some of the behaviors you've seen that significant lack of enrichment or exercise, create an issue or the aggression issue? What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, I think that's usually a big issue, not the only cause. But we'd have to make sure that wellbeing and enrichment needs and exercise needs are properly met. Because as I said before, if the dog gets stressed, or it gets wrong way poured, some boredom is good, but two months is not good. Then they are taking it The instinct behaviors, like entertain themselves, or if they have nothing else to do. For example, my border collie Glenna hurt her toe and see was ordered to take three week sickness leave at home and no exercise. Even though I used several hours a day to try to enrich her at home with only food, no toys, no movement, I think that was successful in sight. But when we got out for her doing her stuff, and a little bit of free rehabilitation movement, see went like totally nuts. See, it's just run in a circle, and the car chasing cars temporarily back, we had were a successful training and there was no problem. And with three weeks inside, see started again. So if I think that is always the first thing you need to take into consideration, when you see accuracy behaviors, inheriting priests. It's not always a reason. But if there is some dog Lux, something, you can't really train it before you get get the site, right. So it's a very important point you make you make there's really satisfying those innate needs of the dog. And that must have been like torture for you and your dog and being confined for so long, especially a herding breed. Can't imagine, it must just be like going from solitary confinement to back to Disney World, right? Yes, in the sense, that just means it must be so overwhelming for your dog when you start to see that. Yeah. And when you said overwhelming, I think that is very good to bear in mind that herding breeds are bred to work in a countryside, when there's only to see maybe a couple of birds in the sky, maybe a tractor in the skylight, but not much going on only that capital or see if they are working on. And when we take them in the city. There are like cars and bicycles and children and everything. So it's overwhelming for them. Because they are not prepared to let those things go. It all comes to them, their brain gets overheated. For all the information as some other dog some other breed might well be able to not see and not hear anything. That's a good good example. So along those lines, what tips do you have for the herding breeds or herding breed owners that live in the city environments, you know, additional to what you've mentioned already. So look at that the whiplash turn game giving them are making sure their needs are met through ancillary activities, and making sure they have enough downtime. So let's say you've got a client, you're going to meet them in downtown and then city environments and they've got this issue and we can reasonably argue it's very difficult to control those environments because there's so many southern contrasts. Do you have any specific tips or tricks for that particular situation? I think the safe management is really important. So you need to preferably have a harness with the handle so you can grab it, you can teach the crab to be a nice thing for the dog. So it does not add the scariness and also a very good leash, preferably double peep from back and to front. So if something happens, you always have a good grip so that your dog does not run away. And I would advise to avoid that BCS ours, so maybe not in the morning or evening rush hour for walking, the quieter hours of today, parks, some streets only for walkers. Because when the dog gets like overwhelmed, there is only a little you can do in that point anymore. And the frustration starts to build and and you need to get some peace for the dog to calm down. If you only build and build and build and build and build it will exploit some time. So if you had one exercise or one technique to teach owners, that would be the most valuable for them in a city environment to prevent this over threshold moments, or to work on the behavior what would it be? Which particular exercise would you kind of think is the top of your list for the city dog owner. So proactive or pre emptive work versus responding when the dog has already gone over a threshold. I will say it would be the look at that game because it needs to set dock not only to disengages from the distractions but also if you do it a lot and with under duress hold it Eating the dog not to notice so much things anymore. For example, I have done it with index parts when my border collie and finds very hard if someone else is retrieving a dumbbell. See what I also have to do that. So we have worked. So that's Wednesday does look at that, with the other dog retrieving secrets for a revert to retreat a toy. So you can also alter the reward. So that reward is offering to dog the same experience than the actual destruction would have offered a very important point of meeting the function of that behavior or satisfying that need. Yes, yes. So I've been interviewing guests on this podcast for many different countries. And I've always for my own selfish interests, kind of love to learn more about the culture of dogs in the different countries. So I'd love to hear more about Finland's and how dogs are treated there. And, you know, again, another really broad question, we can talk for hours about right. But compared to the United States or some other countries, what are the differences? Do you have like a lot of street dogs are the dogs are very well managed and unleashed all the time? Or do you have to they have a lot of freedom in their environments, it's more controlled than what you like to see. And, you know, I'd like to get your thoughts on what the what a dog's life is like in Finland. Well, I think a dog's life in Finland is very good. We have zero day stray dogs, no dogs at all, without a home. Of course, some rescue dogs from bad bad owners, but very few. We I think in Finland, it's a bit divide. City who has rural areas, because we have a lot of woods, and a lot of land. And in those parts of the country, there's a lot of hunting dogs, which actually get to hunt and are bred only for hunting purposes. I don't know that side, so much about the most common breeds. Like if you only list for registrations for one breed are Labradors and Finnish hunting breeds. And then, in the cities, we have small dogs and herding breeds for dog spots. Also, Labradors are very used to our breed see in sports. So it sounds like they really respect the utility or the purpose of many of the dog breeds there. And they're often it's understandable kind of work they do because of the landscape there and the sort of culture. So let me ask you this, how much aggression? Are you seeing? Do you see a lot of high level bite cases or, you know, people with serious injuries? Or is that not very tolerated from a cultural standpoint, that is not tolerated. And I think that is not very common. If there is some serious case, it's all our news. It's not very useful. I think in Finland, usually people train their dogs, at least the basics. And in cities as I live in Toronto, which is like the fourth biggest city in Finland, almost everyone with the dog comes to a puppy class, and then maybe a basic skills casts. And they learned about handling the dogs and socialization and that kind of stuff. So very rare, bad, aggressive cases, maybe more like dock to dock cases, as in Finland, you are for Pete, to let your dog run free in the summer because of the wildlife animals. And I think that is something who should I call it? We are maybe not so socialized people, and maybe our dogs are not. So Sofia iced as well, when it comes to total strangers, meeting and the walks. That's very, very interesting. So it sounds like we have many lessons to learn from Finland and the culture of dogs and how they're raised and accepted into society as well as the socialization aspect. I loved what you were saying about the puppy classes, and how common is there for that to happen? So yes, thank you for sharing that information about Finland. So SATA, where can people find you? Or are you up to now for projects? And if you want to send people your way, where would they go? I have a instagram and facebook account listed as soon as you mentioned, and also a website, but unfortunately, it is only in Phoenix. But if you are interested, it is good to find this very well. Excellent, excellent. And I'll be sure to link to those in the show notes for everybody to get to the city dog herding breed in the city, which is obviously a much needed course around the world. So I'm really looking forward to hearing more about that. And how that goes along. So Sarah, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you very much for the invitation. This was really great. It's always so great to dive into the nuances of breed specific behavior tendencies. And I really appreciate sada jumping into this episode with me to chat about herders. I'd also love to hear what you would like for additional topics in future episodes of both the by the end of the dog, and the help for dogs with aggression subscription series, you can reach out by emailing podcast at aggressive dog.com That's podcast at aggressive dog.com I'd love to hear from you and I thank you for tuning into the show. Stay well, my friends